Wanderlust : A History of Walking

3.91 (5,229 ratings by Goodreads)
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3.91 (5,229 ratings by Goodreads)

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A passionate, thought-provoking exploration of walking as a political and cultural activity, from the author of Orwell's Roses

Drawing together many histories--of anatomical evolution and city design, of treadmills and labyrinths, of walking clubs and sexual mores--Rebecca Solnit creates a fascinating portrait of the range of possibilities presented by walking. Arguing that the history of walking includes walking for pleasure as well as for political, aesthetic, and social meaning, Solnit focuses on the walkers whose everyday and extreme acts have shaped our culture, from philosophers to poets to mountaineers. She profiles some of the most significant walkers in history and fiction--from Wordsworth to Gary Snyder, from Jane Austen's Elizabeth Bennet to Andre Breton's Nadja--finding a profound relationship between walking and thinking and walking and culture. Solnit argues for the necessity of preserving the time and space in which to walk in our ever more car-dependent and accelerated world.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 368 pages
  • 140 x 213 x 23mm | 312g
  • Penguin USA
  • New York, NY, United States
  • English
  • Reissue
  • 0140286012
  • 9780140286014
  • 73,132

Table of contents

I. The Pace of Thoughts
1. Tracing a Headland: An Introduction
3. The Mind at Three Miles an Hour
3. Rising and Falling: The Theorists of Bipedalism
4. The Uphill Road to Grace: Some Pilgrimages
5. Labyrinths and Cadillacs: Walking into the Realm of the Symbolic
II. From the Garden to the Wild
6. The Path Out of the Garden
7. The Legs of William Wordsworth
8. A Thousand Miles of Conventional Sentiment: The Literature of Walking
9. Mount Obscurity and Mount Arrival
10. Of Walking Clubs and Land Wars

III. Lives of the Streets
11. The Solitary Stroller and the City
12. Paris, or Botanizing on the Asphalt
13. Citizens of the Streets: Parties, Processions, and Revolutions
14. Walking After Midnight: Women, Sex, and Public Space

IV. Past the End of the Road
15. Aerobic Sisyphus and the Suburbanized Psyche
16. The Shape of a Walk
17. Las Vegas, or the Longest Distance Between Two Points

Sources for Foot Quotations
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Review quote

Praise for Wanderlust:

"Solnit is an elegant essayist . . . [she] joyfully trespasses across disciplines and genres, tracing a path through philosophy, paleontology, politics, religion, and literary criticism."
-The New York Times

"A tour de force . . . Solnit's is a sinuous course propelled by abandon yet guided by a firm intelligence . . . she has a fine sense of paradoz that keeps her from prosletyzing . . . a writer of unflagging grace, has a remarkable ability to wrest meaning from the mundane."
-San Francisco Chronicle

"[Solnit is] a rigorous polymath capable of stunning flashes of original thought . . . fascinating."
-Los Angeles Weekly

"[Solnit's] words remind us of walking's simple joy and return us to a time when an aimless contemplative stroll was a daily activity, not a guilty pleasure."
-The New York Times Book Review

"Solnit's thoughtful, thought-provoking, and delightful exploration of the seemingly mndane topic of walking offers an abundance of new ways to think . . . An entertaining and utterly compelling read, filled with facts and observations, written with elegance and eloquence."
-San Francisco Bay Guardian

"Idiosyncratic and inspiring . . . Wanderlust is an anecdotal On the Road, a rambling woman's paean to the mind-body connection."
-Voice Literary Supplement

"An erudite history of walking studded with arresting insights."

"Rich with brilliant observaiton and detail . . . full of beautiful aphorisms and leaps of imagination, a scholarship of evocation rather than definition."
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About Rebecca Solnit

Rebecca Solnit is the author of numerous books, including Hope in the Dark, River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West, Wanderlust: A History of Walking, and As Eve Said to the Serpent: On Landscape, Gender, and Art, which was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism. In 2003, she received the prestigious Lannan Literary Award.
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Rating details

3.91 out of 5 stars
- 5,229 ratings
5 30% (1,590)
4 39% (2,037)
3 23% (1,208)
2 6% (311)
1 2% (83)
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